Release date: 1989
Producer: Mark Deutrom
Label: Boner Records
Before the outburst of the Seattle grunge scene with Nirvana’s seminal debut album, there was a band that resounded through the 80’s. Unknown to the many listeners of the today, without Melvins there would be no Nirvana. The importance of Melvins as a forerunner to the grunge era is something that sometimes gets scrapped unless you are a huge audiophile.
The second album released in 1989, Ozma, is not for everybody. It has been panned by critics for being unnecessarily experimental and drowsy. But that shouldn’t stand in the way of enjoying the poetic noise that is this album. The tracks on this album are nothing short of a brilliant collection of hard guitar riffs of Buzz Osborne coupled with his raspy and tough vocals. The guitar, even though powerful, is largely underused and overpowered by the masterful drumming of Dale Crover. The bass line gives this album a funky feel that takes you to the time of old school Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Thanks to Lori Black the groove is a resident theme in this album when it comes to bass.
The reason why this album is underappreciated (to a very large extent) is essentially because it followed their debut masterpiece Gluey Porch Treatments (1987). A highly recommended album if you wish to get an essence of this band. The album begins on a foreboding note with Vile, a drum heavy and power chord driven song that sends a chill. The slow and deliberate rush that is predominant throughout this album finds its true calling in the songs that follow, At a Crawl and Creepy Smell. The lyrics are dirty, dark and desolate; even bordering on surreal. The surrealist lyricism is seen in songs like Let God Be Your Gardener, Cranky Messiah and Dead Dressed. The reason why these songs stand out is essentially because of the dragging voice and tone of Buzz Osborne that almost seems too natural than deliberate. The whole album is peppered with ravaging basslines that transcends a funk feel into its many songs. The high point of this album has got to be the masterful piece called Revulsion/We Reach. Powered with a blistering bassline, this song is exceptional in the fact that it drowns out most of the guitar riffs and focuses solely on the bass and drums. The album rushes to a close with no unnecessary fanfare other than a short barely a minute long piece My Small Percent Shows Most. This leaves with a haunting astonishment as to whether or not the album did end.
I must admit that grunge isn’t for all and Melvins are definitely an acquired taste. Grunge as a genre has found criticism owing to its monotonous tone. Ozma does find itself to be a victim of that to some extent. But the place that Melvins hold in the music comes from its mastery of the monotony. Going against the grain of culture, founding genres and a complete disregard to the norms of the industry and society in general. This band is worth the effort of exploring if you are looking for some gloom and doom in your regular life. If not that then maybe the fact that Melvins are Kurt Cobain’s favourite band can appeal to you! That’s convincing enough for some I suppose. The band opened a world of new sounds and are still going strong, performing live and belting out albums at an astonishing regular fashion. Their latest release was in 2016, which should say something. One of the hardest working bands in the business.
Album Art: http://riffipedia.wikia.com/wiki/Ozma
Header Art: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/446419381791334732/